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Parliament to reconsider GE moratorium

6 May, 2004

Parliament to reconsider GE moratorium

The selection of the Green Party's private members' bill that would reinstate the Genetic Engineering moratorium will give New Zealand another chance to reject the presence of GE organisms in our environment, Green MP Ian Ewen-Street said today.

Mr Ewen Street's private members' bill, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (Moratorium Reinstatement) Amendment Bill, would re-impose the moratorium that was lifted last year. The bill was picked from the members' ballot today.

"New Zealand has overwhelmingly said no to GE, now parliament gets another chance to reconsider the stupidity of allowing GE organisms into our environment and our food chain," said Mr Ewen-Street, the Green Party's Agriculture spokesperson.

"The fact that there have yet to be any applications for the commercial release of GE products proves that it is not too late for the Government to listen to the majority of New Zealanders - and New Zealand farmers - who do not want GE released.

"The absence of support for GE was demonstrated today by the winding up of pro-GE groups because they lacked enough subscribers. I'm happy that the public and Parliament will get the opportunity through my private members' bill to rectify the mistake of lifting the moratorium last year."

Mr Ewen-Street said it was plainly obvious that there was insufficient evidence to allow the moratorium to be lifted in October last year, as research into soil ecosystems and horizontal gene transfer is still several years from completion. It also threatened to sink our burgeoning organic and GE-Free agriculture industry.

"Last year the Government failed to 'proceed with caution' - instead they proceeded with reckless abandon to allow GE to wind up in the food we eat and the air we breathe. It was environmentally and economically irresponsible to lift the moratorium last year and posed a direct threat to our agriculture industry," he said.

Greens Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said that since the moratorium was lifted, international evidence proved that the GE path would be met with much resistance.

"Evidence since last year has accumulated that approval for GE foods has been given on entirely flimsy information and negligible testing, even on animals," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The UK decision to make those who release GE organisms responsible for any harm they cause has resulted in the withdrawal by Bayer of its proposed application to grow GE maize.

"Monsanto cannot find producers willing to grow its new GE wheat because of market resistance. It is time Parliament had another opportunity to review the evidence before ERMA is allowed to consider the first application for release," she said.

ENDS

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